Barry Scow was born in 1964 in the village of Alert Bay, British Columbia, an area located of the northern tip of Vancouver Island known for its long-standing tradition of producing and nurturing powerful carvers. His grandfather was a Chief and as a result of this, Barry Scow grew up with a strong sense of his cultural heritage. His uncle was the first Indigenous person to graduate from UBC School of Law, and he became a partner in a successful law firm, then later became a BC Provincial Court Judge. He influenced Barry significantly and intended to adopt Barry as a child.
During Barry’s early years as an artist, he was often hired to repair totem poles. This allowed him to learn from many different artists and become familiar with the carving styles of different nations of the Northwest Coast. For two years after the 1987 Expo, Barry Scow formally apprenticed under the late Joe Peters Junior. He then studied under Wayne Alfred and Beau Dick, one of the most prominent carvers on the Northwest Coast. In 1992 Barry, Wayne, and Beau worked together to carve a 40-foot totem pole that stands in Stanley Park today.
Exhibiting great determination to become an accomplished carver, Scow has emerged as an important talent and is now carving powerful and finely crafted masks. Currently, he is the only artist focusing solely on transformation and other types of articulated masks – a skill he started developing in his youth when he was a puppet master, carving animated puppets.
Scow has exhibited the discipline and determination to become one of the Northwest Coast’s prominent Kwakwaka’wakw artists. Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery is pleased to present the work of this outstanding artist.
Works by this Artist (Present + Past + Public)
Yellow Cedar wood, Acrylic paint
“People of the Eagle” Frontlet, masterfully carved and painted by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Barry Scow, represents the Chief and his people of the Eagle clan. True to form of Barry’s fine carving, this frontlet portrays the Eagle with Sun, and commemorates Barry’s link to his Grandfather, who was a Chief, and to his heritage.
A Frontlet is a forehead mask attached to a woven headpiece, worn only by Chiefs and high-ranking individuals in order to display status. This particular frontlet carries the Eagle and Sun motif. The Eagle position belonged to the highest-ranking Chief in the village.
The Eagle lives in the sky, or Upper World, and represents status, power, peace and friendship. Eagle is the Chief of the birds, an honor he shares with the Woodpecker. The Sun is a popular Kwakwaka’wakw motif, used quite regularly in their art. The sun can represent life and creative forces as well as warmth and healing.
To further establish his high position, the Chief practiced a traditional act of discarding his wealth in front of other Chiefs. Much of this wealth was in the form of copper. To break the copper or throw it into the ocean, symbolized that he and his clan were modest of their wealth and that the value of friendship weighed more than the value of material wealth.
To assist the Chief with this historical display of modesty, a subordinate was appointed. The assistant is portrayed below the beak of the Eagle, carved in intricate detail, as one can see in the teeth and tongue of the human face. Another beautiful component of this piece are the Chief’s people, delicately cradled in the beak of the Eagle.
The artist’s Past Works at our Gallery have now sold; however, a custom order may be possible if the artist is available and accepting commissions.